November 2, 2007, Newsletter Issue #126: Ketoacidosis

Tip of the Week

Ketoacidosis - an increase in the acid content of the blood - occurs when blood sugars are very high or are uncontrolled. In the absence of enough insulin to assist in the transport of sugar into your body's cells (to use for fuel) the body begins to use muscle and fat for energy, instead.

When one thinks of diabetic complications, the top five usually include: heart disease, kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy and ulcers. However, one of the most common complications is ketoacidosis.

The use of muscle and fat produces ketones - an acidic byproduct that eventually consumes the body's natural buffers. The rise in the blood acid levels is ketoacidosis, which depletes body water and electrolytes, and the result is a medical coma.

Sometimes infection, heart attack, stroke, surgery or stress can precipitate the ketoacidosis as your body attempts to compensate for the stressful event.

Symptoms you may see prior to coma include excessive thirst, fruity (alcoholic) breath, and confusion. Treatment includes hydration and administration of insulin, however the best treatment is prevention:

* monitor your blood sugars
* take you insulin as directed
* know the symptoms and how to treat
* call your doctor

You and your knowledge of your disease are the first best defense against diabetic ketoacidosis.

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